Veiling as a cultural practice that predates Islam, today finds itself confined within the discursive framework of representation and stereotype, oppression and freedom, identity and choice, of the “homogeneous” entity called the “Muslim woman”. In the midst of debates around these, the nondescript black burqa, struggles for a narrative beyond the permissible limits of mainstream discourse.
The contemporary burqa as a form of purdah or veiling practice encompasses more than a simple veil covering the face, head or body of the “good Muslim woman”. Lost in the debate are countless narratives of women for who perchance may be wearing the burqa out of choice, custom, social pressure, or religious conviction but then they are more than the garment that covers them.
Without going into Quranic exegesis on the veil or getting trapped by feminist discourses ranging from Fatema Mernessi to Irshad Manji, the proposed research is an attempt to look at the burqa and its wearer outside the framework of “Muslim” identity.
My key questions remain:
What are the prisms of looking at the burqa clad woman?
What are the possible ways to define her besides as a “Muslim” woman?
for the full text, go to – Proposal on Veiling Practices (Pages)